Monday, July 31, 2006

Crossing over to the Dark Space

I have a passing awareness of MySpace, and I thought today I would go check it out thouroughly to see if I could use it to help promote my business. Apparently, there are a lot of MySpace Bands, maybe I could start (or join in) people using MySpace to promote restaurants. This is what I found that I lack for the pages of MySpace:
2)A pithy nickname, like Gator or Photo Guy.
3)A shirtless photo.
4)A talent for creating atrociously cluttered and hard to navigate web pages.
5)A shirtless photo
6)A shirtless photo.

Wait a minute . . .

These people are looking to "Network"! I get it.

Where's my camera?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Inventing new ways to mess with your head

5cr6s6ft c6nt5n4es t6 5nvent new ways t6 0ess w5th y64r head. the 3atest 5s the secret n40ber 36c2 2ey that y64 can acc5denta33y *4sh and 5t w533 0ess w5th y64r head f6r h64rs. th5n2 that 5t 6n3y affects w6rds that y64 ty*e w5th y64r r5ght hand. The 36ngest w6rd y64 can ty*e w5th y64r 3eft hand 5s stewardesses.

Translation of the above paragraph: Microsoft continues to invent new ways to mess with your head. The lastes is the secret number lock key that you can accidentally push and it will mess with your head for hours. I think that it only affects words that you type with your right hand. The longest word you can type with your left hand is stewardesses.

This is a new computer. The first secret weapon I found, which I have to blame Sony for and not Microsoft, is the wireless on/off switch. It is a tiny little switch that is on the front of the computer which can quite easily be turned off with your stomach if you actually use your laptop in your lap. I spent an hour with Comcast tech support, bought a new USB cord for my wireless router and missed three days of internet usage last month before I discovered that stupid switch. Why would you want to turn off your wireless access? Beats me.

So, yesterday when my keyboard started typing what seemed to be completely random crap, I did what anyone else would do. I restarted the computer. Didn't help. I thought maybe the keyboard had switched to Farsii or something and I wanted to change it back, so I went to the control panel and opened the keyboard icon to troubleshoot. It asked me if my keyboard was attached with a USB or serial port. It is a laptop, so it is neither. Since I couldn't answer the first question, the help file was stumped. And since the problem was with the keyboard, I couldn't go online and type anything into a search engine to figure it out.

I finally found the Num Lk key. What stupid engineer with too much time on his hands came up with this. My goddam computer asks me if I'm sure I want to close programs and if I'm sure I want to save things and if I'm sure I want to go to the C: drive and if I'm sure I want to go to a website that doesn't have some "certificate" before I can do any of those tasks. Yet, when it comes to obscure buttons that can accidentally be engaged to make your computer completely useless, you're on your own.

I shoulda got a Mac.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Marketing the Vote

I used to live in Plam Beach County, Florida, which is the lowest circle of hell you can get to and still be in the United States. As a Palm Beach County resident, I was involved in a controversial little event you might recall, the 2000 election. I voted on the infamous butterfly ballot. I may have left my chad dangling, I guess I'll never know.

I got my "Official Sample Ballot" in the mail yesterday for the upcoming election here in Tennessee and Davidson County.

There is a man named John Jay Hooker running for both Governor and US Senator. If he wins both, he'll be a very busy man. Maybe former Nashville Mayor Bill Boner can come out of retirement. What a great ticket that would be, Hooker and Boner. The last name on page two is Bob Krumm. He's been in several times where I work. Therefore, unless Manuel Fonseca makes a last minute charge and comes in and spends some serious cash, I support Bob.

The only candidate running for Tennessee House in the 56th district for the Democratic Primary is "Write-In." Which, of course, is code for Rex L. Camino. In the Republican Primary for Tennessee Senate, there is a candidate named Ray "Chip" T. Throckmorton, III. Should you really be running for public office if you use quotation marks around a nickname as part of your official name? (I know a small group of people who were so inspired by his name, they have named a sexual manoeuver after it: "Last night I pulled a Throckmorton on the little lady. She loved it.)

There is a candidate for Circuit Court Judge named Hamilton "Kip" Gayden. More quotations. And another great ticket, Get out and vote for "Chip" and "Kip"."Kip" is running against Rex "Rex" L. Camino.

There is a guy running for Metro Council named Timothy Bruce Lee. He threw in his middle name just to let you know he's gonna kick your ass if you don't vote for him. There is another guy named Robert Duvall. We could have one tough council.

On the back page is where we get the condescending instructions on touch screen voting. The title is Touch Screen Voting Easy as One, Two, Three. Good Lord, election marketing people. Last time I checked, you had to be 18 to vote. "Easy as one, two three" is something you say to a Pre-Schooler. It goes on with shit like:

Touch "Review Ballot" to review your selections.

Thanks, I would hate to go into the booth without that tidbit of information.

Then there's this:

"Thank you for "Voting" means your vote has been cast.

Hey, more quotation marks! "Wheeeee." I thought quotation marks came in even numbered lots, but in an election, all quotation mark rules are off.

Look, if you can't figure out how to touch a candidate's name and press vote when you are finished, stay home. I don't want you voting. You're too stupid to have a say in the government. It takes me back to the butterfly ballot. I almost voted for the wrong guy. Almost. But, you know what, I didn't. It wasn't nearly as confusing as the pissed-off old men in Del Boca Vista would have you believe.

I hope they put a copy/paste feature on the write-in option. I don't want to type Camino's name in twenty times. I'm voting for him for everything. Except for Krumm.

Clean Sweep Update

My parents were here from Florida for about nine days. They left on Saturday. When they left, the house was perfectly clean. Despite more than a week of wrangling a five-year-old little girl, they managed to clean everything, replace a dripping faucet, replace a faulty light switch, and do all the laundry.


My mother is one of those ladies who kicks ass at laundry. I do not. I intentionally buy all my clothes made of cotton in neutral colors so that I never have to change the setting on the washer. It is always warm/cold and super load. Always. I don't separate. I don't get the concept of having a little bag to put something delicate in and washing it on gentle by itself. So eveything that was made of cloth got washed. She found my stash of defective clothes, a pile of garments that were missing buttons or had broken zippers, and assumed it was just another pile of laundry, and washed those clothes. They are now integrated back into my functioning wardrobe for me to cull out again on a case by case basis. I have more clothes than space, so I had clothes piled on my dresser. She bought a big plastic container with a lid, because, at least if they are in an ugly-ass blue plastic box on the floor next to my bed, they are "put away."

There was a small load of unwashed clothes remaining on the day they left, maybe five items. I discovered them today, damp and in the washer. My mom left a final note when they departed, telling me things like that they turned up the thermostat (which was obvious) they fed the dog, whatever. The note also instructed me that those clothes were clean, and needed to go into the dryer. Unfortunately, to a woman who interacts with the washer and dryer several times every single day, she left the note in the most logical place she could think of, on top of the washer.

I can go two weeks without opening the door to the washer and dryer. I'm lucky I found the stuff this early on in the mildew process. I think I saved them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Listing Heavily

A bunch of people got hurt when a cruise ship did a hard list yesterday. I worked on cruise ships for a few years, and had my share of unexpected lisitng incidents. Bouncing around during a storm is something you just get used to. In fact, for the crew, it can be kind of fun watching the people in evening gowns and tuxes puking in the potted plants on formal night. However, the sudden list in calm water will get your attention.

One early morning, on a crappy Carnival Bucket of Bolts called the Mardi Gras, we were turning into Nassau Harbor for a full day of hair braiding, trinket buying and duty-free liquor shopping. I was sound asleep in my bunk, when I was awakened by the TV I had on the table at the foot of my bed landing on top of me. I was up against the wall, and we were still tipping. It felt like we were going to tip over. We finally stopped and tipped back the other way, rolling from side to side for about 20 minutes. The account I heard later from one of the officers was a simple miscommunication. The ship has to take on a pilot from the country it is docking in, who takes over the controls. So in this case, that pilot would be Bahamian. The officers on that particular ship were Italian. When the Italian said "six degrees starboard, pilot heard "sixty degrees starboard."

And then the fun began.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wheelsurfin' U.S.A.

Take a nutty Brazilian inventor, send him to the Netherlands and what do you get? The coolest, wackiest personal transportation device ever. Forget about the Segway, the biggest yawn in the history of over-hyped inventions. The Wheelsurf is just about the coolest thing I've ever seen. Anything that is "powered by a chainsaw engine" is going to get my attention. So I went to check it out, and admittedly, I was decidedly not blown away by the picture. But click on the gallery and watch the movie. That's where the Wheelsurf sells itself. Pure cinematic genius. The best part is when the Wheelsurf guy gets out and lets the Wheelsurf go, and proceeds to chase the runaway Wheelsurf down the beach.

Someone with an entreprenurial spirit and more money than sense is going to get the exclusive American import rights to the Wheelsurf. I can picture a stable of Wheelsurfs for rent by the hour at every tourist destination in America, right next to the scooters and banana boat rides.

Picture if you will, Sarcastro and Aunt B. Wheelsurfing leisurely down the beach in Panama City, loudly arguing the benefits of using tax money for Government entitlement programs to help single mothers.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Elvis Guy Number Two (or the longest bass solo in the history of the world)

A couple of years after not taking a gig with Elvis Guy Number One, I got a gig with Elvis Guy Number Two. I have no idea how I got it, but it was for real. There were a series of, paying gigs in Iowa, about four of them. He was flying us and paying us. Good enough.

I don't remember the guy's name. Lets call him Orenthal Simpson. I do remember he went by Orenthal "Little Elvis" Simpson. I assumed it was because he was slight in stature. However, I later learned that it was because he was a Las Vegas native, and he had been doing his Elvis act since he was five. The dude was about 40. He had spent his entire life pretending to be someone else. He was a more than a little quirky.

Somehow he got booked in these hockey rinks in places like the Quad Cities and Dubuque, or where ever the hell it was. Unfortunately, no one bought tickets to see Little Elvis and we played in these enormous 12,000 seat arenas for 40 people in folding chairs in front of the stage.

That was the situation on the first night. I was playing bass. He lifted most of his act from some live Elvis recordings. There is one song, I don't remember what, some obscure live version of CC Rider maybe, where Elvis, on the live record, says "Play the Bass!" and the bass player takes a four bar solo. Four bars. That's about 10 seconds. We get to that part and Little Elvis looks at me and says "Play the Bass!"

Then he leaves.

He went to make a costume change. During a bass solo. And the dressing room was on the opposite end of the empty hockey rink from the stage. It was a 15 minute bass solo. Not only did it last 15 minutes, it was at a tempo that falls exactly in the "stupid tempo for a bass solo" range. Most bass solos, like most drum solos, are stupid and boring. This was the stupidest bass solo in the history of bass solos. I just stood there in my tux, smiled at the 40 folks in the folding chairs and played 15 minutes of the stupidest crap you ever heard in your life, thinking the whole time about how much I needed the money.

A few nights later, we were in a room more appropriate for the size of the crowd, and Little Elvis was visibly excited that more people had paid to come see him. It was the side room of a hockey rink, and there were probably 150 people there. Little Elvis had collected a book of charts over the years that had nearly every Elvis song ever recorded. About an hour and a half into the show, he played a big, show-stopping song. "Thank God we're done," I thought. Nope, he called another song. This happened forever. Big Showstopper, I'm thinking we're certainly done. Nope call another song. He got to the point where he was doing covers of songs that Elvis covered, like Never Been to Spain. Finally, Sweet Caroline was the last straw. The remaining group of four people who had gutted it out for three and a half hours got up and left. Little Elvis won.

Afterward, the guitar player and I went to a bar across the street from the hotel. Someone recognized us and asked us to sit in with the band. After the Little Elvis fiasco, we were ready to rock. We played a couple of songs that he sang, some Allman Brothers or something, and these good Iowa people looked at us like we were from Mars. Like the needle had scratched across the record on the jukebox. Being from the South, I called one of the handful of songs that every musician has in his back pocket that will always get the crowd rocking. Tush by ZZ Top. It worked every time all those years in Texas. I had barely gotten "I've been up, I've been down," out of my mouth, and we had cleared the room. People in that part of the country have different musical taste. Lollipop playing on the jukebox earlier should have been a warning.

So it took Little Elvis well over three hours to clear a room. It took me three minutes. I won.

Elvis Guy Number One

There are two rules for young musicians newly arrived to Music City looking for work. First is to follow up on any lead, because you never know who you might meet. Second it to have a price and stick to it. You start playing for free, you'll always play for free. When I first came to town, the minimum price for my services was fifty bucks. I would play all the Margaritaville and Brown Eyed Girl you could dish out as long as you threw me fifty at the end. And free beer never hurt.

A friend called me one day to go audition for "some Elvis guy." When I arrived at the audition, in a dingy basement in West Nashville it truly was an Elvis guy. The jet-black hair, the glasses, the rings, the chains, even his clothes for hanging out at an audition were more than a little Elvis like.

Vegas Elvis, not cool Elvis. He made a point to tell us that he wasn't an Elvis Impersonator, he just did a "few Elvis songs as a tribute" in his act.

So for the audition, we played nothing but Elvis songs. The other guys who had been called in to audition were as far from "musicians" as you could get. Elvis wanted to see what we could all do individually. The drummer said he could sing. He wanted to do the Green Green Grass of Home. Not only did singing completely strip him of any sense of timekeeping on the drums, he was the worst singer in the history of bad singing. I've never watched American Idol, but I've seen commercials, and his singing was so bad, he would have made the lowlight reel.

So after an excruciating hour of a total musical catfight, Elvis decided he liked me and took me into another room and got all serious. He had a gig scheduled in six weeks, some kind of convention.

Conventions pay really well, I thought.

And he wanted to know my schedule for rehearsals.

Rehearsals. What a dirty word. I asked if the rehearsals were paid rehearsals. He said no. Then he continued, saying he wanted to rehearse three or four nights a week leading up to the gig.

I was starting to feel like I had wasted my evening. There was no way I was going to rehearse for free with this joker unless the gig paid really well. Which convention gigs sometimes do. If I was going to make 750 or a grand, it would be OK. So I flat out asked him what the gig paid. He said, "I'm still negotiating, but I'm thinking it's going to be between 35. . . "

He's going to say, "hundred" I thought. He's one of those guys that is open about how much the pay is and it's going to be an even split. Thirty-five hundred split four ways wouldn't be too bad. That's the only thing that made any sense. Thirty five hundred.

He said, "between 35 and 40 . . ."

What? Now this just doesn't make any sense. The words hung in the air, taunting me, confusing me. Thirty five and forty what? He stopped talking. That was it. His sentence was finished.

"Thirty five and 40 what?" I asked thouroughly puzzled.

He looked at me through his Elvis glasses and said with pride, "per man."

I said "thirty five to forty DOLLARS per man? You want me to come rehearse four nights a week for a month and a half to play one show for thirty five or forty dollars?"

Needless to say, I left. About a year later, I went to the soon-to-be-opened Green Hills Grille to apply for a bartending job. There was a crew putting on the roof. That crew included that Elvis guy. I guess that convention work didn't pan out for him.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sucking and Blowing

I mentioned both cleaning and the bathroom in my pool house yesterday. While it is enclosed, it is also sort of an outdoor bathroom. Let's just say it ain't climate controlled. So it was full of leaves the otherday, and I cleaned it with a leaf blower.

I have a bathroom that I can clean with a leaf blower. That rocks.

So, since I was on a roll, I decided to take on my fish pond. The previous owner left me a fairly large koi pond, and it has gotten so dirty that the filter can't keep up. The water isn't murky, but there is a lot of built up sediment that has settled onto the liner on the bottom and sides, and it clogs the filter, which used to be cleaned every other month, every week or so. Cleaning that thing is a bitch. The previous owner left a couple of kiddie pools, which he said he used for temporary fish housing when the pond needed to be drained and cleaned. Well, first of all, the fish have had a couple of litters since he moved, and I would have to wrangle about 30 fish into the kiddie pool. Secondly, he owns a pool business, and is quite proud of the fact that he has a large crew of, uh, Latino workers who make six bucks an hour. I doubt he did anything other than point and say "Clean."

So I got out the Shop Vac. I cleaned the bathroom with a leaf blower and the fish pond with a shop vac. That is bachelor heaven.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Clean Sweep

My parents are coming to visit next week. That's good because my kid will actually spend an entire week at my house. I've been so busy at work that I hardly see her these days. There's another phenomenom that happens when my parents visit. Things will get cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. And my mother will point out everything she cleaned, and tell me how she cleaned it. And she will clean anything no matter how clean it already is, and she'll make my dad clean.

They came to visit me once in college, years ago. I lived in a garage apartment. It was a hovel. I was in college, fercrissake. I spent several days cleaning before they arrived. Despite all that cleaning, my mother was disgusted with the state of the place, and spent the whole time cleaning. She now lives under the assumption that I still live in squalor. She even said in an email that the are bringing old clothes so they can do whatever has to be done. Translation: We know you live in filth, so I am going to take this opportunity to clean your place up.

When I was married, she never cleaned when she came to visit. I live as clean now as I did then. I'm not in college anymore. I guess she assumed the wife was the one cleaning. I know how to clean. I learned from the best. My dad will clean, too, but only because she's going to tell him to.

(I watched my dad measure some water in a measuring cup, then put it in the dishwasher. I said, "Dad, it's just water. You're going to wash water with soap and water?" He said, "It's easier than arguing with your mother.")

I scrubbed the tub the other day. It is clean. She'll clean it. I have a pool. Last summer she cleaned the diving board. I'm serious. She cleaned the diving board. With bleach and a scrub brush. I have a bathroom in the pool house. More of a pool shack, really. There is a shower in there. It's been in there for decades. I've had the house for two years. I've never used the pool shower. It's filthy. She'll probably clean it.

The woman likes things clean. Maybe I'll finally start taking showers out by the pool.

When she gets home, she'll send an email to all the friends and family talking about how nice it was to visit with me and the granddaughter, but they are exhausted from all the work they did to help me out. All the work meaning all the cleaning.

She likes things clean.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why golf is the stupidest game ever.

Being a holiday, I had a rare afternoon to recreate yesterday, so I met the Veternarian for a round of golf out at the President's Reserve in Hermitage. I was hitting them great on the range, but then got out on the course and started stinking it up. My first five holes went 6,6,4,6,6. Let me explain that to you non-golfers in layman's terms: that's just plain shitty golf.

But I don't play much lately, so we're hacking around, both of us losing balls in the woods or in the lakes, I even quit keeping score. We get to number 11, which is one of the most beautiful golf holes in Middle Tennessee, and I mention to the vet that in all the times I've played there, I've never hit the fairway. Sure enough, we both hit monster drives, right down the middle. That hole is cart-path only, so we park and walk out to the middle, and I'm thinking maybe I can salvage the day. 155 yards, uphill, pin in back, smooth 7-iron should do the trick. Chunk, 30-yards short of the green into the bunker. The vet is 5 yards closer, and he chunks his 10 yards short and right. We walk back to the cart, which is 195 yards away, and I grab a scuffed up ball I had found in the woods, threw it on the ground, grabbed a four iron, and without putting on my glove said, "this game isn't that fucking hard!" took a swing and knocked it two feet from the flag.

One of my best four-irons ever. It didn't count.

Stupid game.